Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 7 April 2009

South Sudan needs overhaul change prior to any elections


By Charles Kisanga

April 6, 2009 — Traditional proverb saying among many of South Sudan tribes often depict the case of hyena that ate the goat: “You cannot ask the hyena which is suspected of eating the goat to go and look for the missing goat.” Indeed this wise saying handed to us by our ancestors over thousands of years would really have been carrying a big meaning to our GoSS president, Lt Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit. But over the last four years, the same people suspected of embezzling money have always been the very ones appointed by Lt Gen Salva Kiir to look for the missing money and to come up with how the money disappeared and what can be done.

President Kiir Committee to Rescue GoSS from Financial Crisis is of No Use

It was no surprise then to see HIM, the President of GoSS again appointing a committee to look for solutions for GoSS bankrupt problem arising from too much corruption and limited oil money remitted from Khartoum monthly. But it was unbelievable still to hear that after Salva Kiir met with his extended cabinet where BoSS Governor Elijah was reported to have told the cabinet that the coffers of the Bank of Southern Sudan was empty (BoSS), President Kiir again went on to form a committee to look for a way out, made up possibly of the same people the Bank Governor was accusing of depleting the bank’s reserves by cashing large sums illegally and suspiciously. The only positive step so far was only the admission to the fact that GoSS is bankrupt. At least admitting the fact that the Government of South Sudan was broke and cannot afford to pay salaries and render services was a bit of maturity now. Well for sometimes now the author Eng Kisanga had made a lot of publicity of the issues GoSS was facing with regards to money flow and paying salaries but the GoSS seemed to play for time before releasing that there was no way out except to come clean to the people with the tough warning of no money. It seems the President was waiting to hear it from the horse’s mouth itself in the form of Governor of Bank of South Sudan.
The Governor of the Bank of Southern Sudan (Boss), Elijah Malik Aleng, custodian of GoSS money, presented a statement on the status of the balance of money left in the Bank to the GoSS council of minsters and according to the GoSS Minister of information statement of Friday 27th March 2009.

Elijah Malik indicated that the Bank is almost empty; its money depleted and described the situation as “alarming and worrying.”
The Bank of Southern Sudan, which is the branch of the Khartoum-based Central Bank of Sudan (CBS), serves as the central bank for the semi-autonomous region and keeps or manages all the finances of GoSS.
Malik, who is also the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sudan, blamed the situation partly on financial irregularities by senior government officials.
He said some senior government officials used to cash cheques in the Bank with very huge “suspicious” sums of money over the years for reasons which were not justifiable.

New Division in SPLM as Some GoSS members try to Distance themselves from Corrupt Colleagues

The words of Mr Elijah Malik is another clear indication that SPLM/ GoSS is now divided with those wanting to expose corruption and make change and those who have been engaged in corruption trying to protect their empire and continue with the status quo in order to increase their immense wealth. These corrupt elements are the majority and they are the elements controlling and running Salva Kiir as their tool for looting money with impunity. Mr Elijah Malik joins Mrs Awut Dent Acuil, the minister of Labour, Public Services and Human Resource Development who has also criticized her colleagues in GoSS as being corrupt and not behaving as statesmen and she had called on them, to implement transparency and accountability. Mrs Awut is one of those progressive people of GoSS who have already made public announcement about the elements of GoSS and SPLM who have been embezzling public funds and emptying the coffers of BoSS with their boss Lt Gen Salva Kiir being unable to do anything about it.

Practical Bold Steps for Change Need to be Taken Now

As usual Salva Kiir is trying to respond in the same way he has always done without fruit for the past four years: appoint committee of the same corrupt people who eats the money into a meaningless committee being charged with making recommendations to him which can help him with a solution to the crisis GoSS is facing in finding liquidity. Mr President, if you have no clue of running a country you can at least see what others do in other countries including SPLM favourite country the USA. In the US the President does not appoint committees to run the country for him all the time he faces a problem. He takes practical solutions on the spot. Why does one become a President only to appoint committees for all the problems of the country and further appoint the wrong people, corrupt ones even, to make recommendations for him? If you lack experts to solve the problem then you hire them or if a minister cannot deliver then you change the minister quickly and that is what leadership is about and not about in-action. The President should stop this government of committees and try to seek new mandate from the masses and people of South Sudan. It is time for Lt General Kiir to dump his hand picked people and giving freedom to the masses so as to choose the right people especially among intellectuals, and technocrats so that they try to run the country for the next 20 months before we go for referendum and the Election before that. Twenty months is too short time to make any impact but having a dedicated non-tribal and non corrupt people will make a difference and restore some confidence in the people. Let us forget about even the Elections scheduled for February 2010, because no voters are going to exercise their rights under the current circumstances where solders are not paid and GoSS workers are not paid for months as none will have any confidence in the government which cannot deliver anything from salaries to services. Change is needed now and cannot wait for election and I’m sure President Kiir himself knows well what the need of the people are but he is blinded by his SPLM corrupt clique and hence he continues to support the corrupt comrades since he is much scared of them more than being scared of the people of South Sudan.

Role of the International Committee toward making Change in south Sudan

It was reported also that during the meeting of the GoSS cabinet the Donor Trust Fund Members were briefed with view of looking forward towards their financial help to GoSS. The Donor Trust fund, World Bank and Western Powers should stop aiding corruption in Africa. They should keep away from corrupt regimes such as GoSS whatsoever. There are many private NGOs run by churches and other non-governmental organisations which can be helped to provide more health care and services to the people in South Sudan and such help can range from providing things such as health care and building schools and roads. Also food distribution is needed to many people like Western Equatoria and other place of recent ethnic clashes such as Pibor County and Lakes State. Food donations should target the poor who have not seen any CPA peace dividend. But giving money to the coffers of corrupt regimes like GoSS is the sort of thing which the western banks and governments were accused of recently, that they exacerbate corruption in Africa by aiding and laundering money for those who steal millions from public funds. [Report - Undue Diligence: Some of the world’s leading banks facilitate corruption in the poorest countries, charges a new report by Global Witness, an independent watchdog group]. Hence any doing business under such circumstances of corruption with GoSS could end up the same way like in the past when Western countries and banks supported corrupt regimes in Africa for yeas and then the regime collapses on it sown via bad governance. Good examples are cases such as of Congo DR under late Mobuto Seseseko (Mobuto came to power via CIA supported coupe) where Western Governments backed the dictator until he could collapse under his own weight. For three decides Congo DR was looted and taken back to a primitive country where only one man had everything and his money of more than $5 billion was stacked in European banks.

Hence let the International Community wait to see whether Salva Kiir can move against the corrupt elements within his GoSS who are accused by Elijah Malik of looting millions if not billions of South Sudan funds form the BoSS so that these people are sacked and persecuted. Let them wait to see whether Salva Kiir has got the political will to dismiss all corrupt ministers(mind that three quarters of Kiir’s cabinet and under secretaries might be made of corrupt elements) .

Action Needed by South Sudan Legislature

The South Sudan Legislature has proved ineffective for four years and it is high time that people in the Legislature prove to the masses of South Sudan that despite the Assembly’s inability to force Kiir to do anything it can work for change now and force many things to allow a conducive atmosphere to prevail in South Sudan before Elections next year and referendum in the subsequent year. The Legislature members should see American and European examples. For example when AGI ( Insurance bust Corporation in USA) was trying to pay bonuses after being bailed out by public funds, it just took Congress less then a week to pass new laws allowing such bonuses to be taxed by 90% in order to get back the money to the Government. In such urgent situation in Juba, a resolution or law must be passed quickly within a few days if people are serious. Legislation would centre on the issue raised by Elijah Malek concerning Senior GoSS officials who drew most of the money. Elijah knows the people who stole money directly from BoSS and there are cheque records. The legislature should make law for the Bank Governor to reveal names of Senior GoSS officials who cashed big questionable amounts from the bank since 2005. Any Minister who withdrew large sums of money unexplained should be considered as corrupt and such must be impeached by the Assembly and they can then force President Kiir to fire them. People should also be warned that corrupt members of GoSS are also sitting members of the Legislature Assembly and of course they will make loud noises to make sure that they bog the proceedings down. But this is now a clique against the masses of South Sudan and they Assembly should not fear but stand with the people as much as Mrs Awut is doing..

We can also conclude that even if the Assembly impeaches these ministers who drew the money from BoSS coffers, Salva Kiir may never do anything about that because his idea of Government is indifferent to that of perception of the people of South Sudan. Salva Kiir thinks that his owes his Government to the corrupt colleagues from the old days of the SPLM in the bush because after all corruption was a standard in the SPLM/A bush years ad and so he can do nothing to distance himself from them and their corruption activities. If that is the case then the Legislature and the SPLA have a right now to move against the leader himself because the Assembly tried to help and stand with him to take action against the corrupt known elements of GoSS but he would not take action and hence they have to move to table motion for new leader, since he has proved himself as the man not for change. So people and the legislature need to use all the evidence to move and make changes for better in South Sudan including impeaching the President himself.

Need for Change Now

The issue of change is very urgent in South Sudan otherwise the call for Election will be wasteful exercise because voting process will be disrupted due to lack of salaries and corruption. We have already seen how recently in Yei and other Eastern and Central Equatorian areas disabled solders were able to move and block roads very quickly. What happens then if GoSS workers and SPLA soldiers do not have their pay for many months and elections then comes around the corner? There must be change in South Sudan Government , a change which can be based on transparency and accountability and there will be no room for tribalism, nepotism and corruption so that people go to the polls with clear conscience on whom to vote for as they will not be intimidated by corrupt elements who will be fearing change still. Today South Sudan needs a leader of action and not a man of words only like Salva Kiir has been doing so far. The masses needs a man of action, a man who can ride on the aspirations (popular demand) of the people to do anything to get the job done for the people rather than having to serve too masters; one the masses and the other the corrupt elements of GoSS/SPLM/A.

Eng. Kisanga is former SPLM NLC member and leader of SPLM Patriotic organisation which is fighting for change in SPLM/A direction. He can be reached on cbkisanga@yahoo.co.uk.

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